3 Lessons We Can Learn From Beyoncé's Content Strategy
The Queen Bey has a fascinating business to study.
I'm Dan Runcie, the founder of Trapital, a media company that breaks down the business of hip-hop. Today's artists are some of our most impactful business leaders. They are changing the game in music, fashion, Hollywood, sports, tech, e-commerce, and more.
Each Monday, I send readers a free weekly memo to gain insights from the latest moves from hip-hop's biggest players. One of the artists I've written most about is Beyoncé. The Queen Bey has a fascinating business to study. Most parts of her game are relevant to anyone creating content and gaining valuable customers.
3 Lessons We Can Learn From Beyoncé's Content Strategy
If you subscribe to any streaming service, it won't take long to find Beyoncé. She's had exclusives on Netflix, Disney+, HBO, Tidal, and more. Her music is on all the major music streaming services. Even if you're on Peloton, the "Drunk In Love" singer will show up soon enough.
The Houston singer and her Parkwood Entertainment team have developed a successful content and commerce strategy that strengthens every part of her business.
Here are three of her best lessons.
1. Find win-win partnerships.
In 2018, Beyoncé headlined Coachella (aka Beychella). It was one of the most memorable performances of the past decade. Tons of platforms would have loved to acquire the rights to air the show's documentary. Her previous visual album was on HBO. Tidal, the service that had exclusive access to Lemonade, had recently launched video streaming too.
But Beyoncé chose to drop it on Netflix. The streaming titan has over 200 million subscribers worldwide. It was one of the largest distribution channels to reach the most people. It was also one of the most lucrative. Netflix spends tens of billions of dollars on content each year to acquire and retain subscribers. This was a chance to land one of the most popular public figures and attract her passionate fanbase. And after Netflix's pay discrimination lawsuit with Mo'Nique, the last thing it wanted to be known for is short-changing another Black woman entertainer. Beyoncé signed a reported $60 million deal for Homecoming and two forthcoming projects.
Even though Beyoncé could have driven more traffic and subscribers to Tidal, Netflix's reach was too valuable to miss out on. It was an opportunity to further boost exposure. This is a question many content creators face: should my work be available for everyone, or only paid customers? It's different for every situation. But Netflix was an opportunity to get paid top dollar and still reach the masses.
2. Extend her projects with derivative content.
It's been nearly five years since Beyoncé's last solo album. Albums like Beyoncé and Lemonade are her cornerstones, but they take tremendous time and effort. In the meantime, she found ways to release projects that are derivatives of her existing work.
In 2018, Bey and her husband Jay Z released Everything Is Love, a nine-track collaboration. The joint album was a natural extension of the themes discussed on both Lemonade and Jay Z's 4:44. The following year, Beyoncé starred in the computer-animated remake of The Lion King. She was featured on The Lion King soundtrack. She also curated and produced an album called The Lion King: The Gift, which featured original songs from her and several other artists. In 2020, she released a visual album of The Gift called Black Is King. It's a Disney+ exclusive.
In a sense, Beyoncé's strategy isn't too different from Disney's itself. They both have reliable IP, Lemonade and The Lion King respectively, and found smart ways to extend its life. It was also a great way for Beyoncé to get exposure on Disney+, which now boasts over 100 million subscribers.
3. Create a funnel.
The business of Beyoncé is expansive. Each piece of content created, live concert, or product sold has to fit in her funnel. The Beyhive is known for its devoted fandom (sometimes to a fault), but there are levels to this.
Here's a visual I made on Beyoncé's sales funnel:
The top of the funnel is for Beyoncé to attract casual fans. These are her award show performances, Netflix specials, hit singles, social media posts, and interviews. They increase her awareness and exposure.
The casual Beyhive is a mix of her deep album cuts, her content on smaller distributors, her concerts, and more. These folks are proud members of the hive. They show out and support with their time and money.
The final group is the diehard Beyhive. They don't mess around. These are the fans who still have Tidal subscriptions just to support Beyoncé. They purchase VIP concert tickets and IVY PARK merchandise. There are fewer of these fans than the other groups, but they're extremely valuable to any base. They are the target demo for her highest-priced goods and services. This is especially relevant for Beyoncé, who is a borderline Veblen good at the point!
Every content creator should have a funnel. It's a living document that changes over time. In today's content landscape, there are plenty of tools to segment your audience to do the same. For many folks starting, social media is their best opportunity to reach the masses. But over time, it will grow.
This guest post was written by Dan Runcie from Trapital, a weekly newsletter where you'll gain insights from the latest moves in the business of hip-hop. Sign up here and I’ll send it to you next week’s memo.